A legal case is a dispute between opposing parties resolved by a court, or by some equivalent legal process. A legal case may be either civil or criminal. There is a defendant and an accuser.
A civil case
A civil case, more commonly known as a lawsuit or controversy, begins when a plaintiff files a document called a complaint with a court, informing the court of the wrong that the plaintiff has allegedly suffered because of the defendant, and requesting a remedy. A civil case can also be arbitrated through arbitration. The remedy sought may be money, an injunction, which requires the defendant to perform or refrain from performing some action, or a declaratory judgment, which determines that the plaintiff has certain legal rights.
A criminal case
A criminal case, in common law jurisdictions, begins when a person suspected of a crime is indicted by a grand jury or otherwise charged with the offense by a government official called a prosecutor or district attorney.
Like a civil case, a criminal case may also be settled before a trial through a plea bargain, in some jurisdictions. If a person does not go to trial, he/she may endure even bigger penalties.
Legal cases, whether criminal or civil, are premised on the idea that a dispute will be fairly resolved when a legal procedure exists by which the dispute can be brought to a factfinder not otherwise involved in the case, who can evaluate evidence to determine the truth with respect to claims of guilt, innocence, liability, or lack of fault. Details of the procedure may depend on both the kind of case and the kind of system in which the case is brought – whether, for example, it is an inquisitorial system or an adversarial system.
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